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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 19

Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (13:52): I rise to speak on the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment Storage Amendment (Petroleum Pools and Other Measures) Bill 2016 and foreshadow that I do have an amendment that I will seek to move in the committee stage. This bill seeks to amend the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 in a number of ways, including to give effect to arrangements between the Commonwealth and states relating to revenue from petroleum pools that straddle the boundaries of Commonwealth and state jurisdictions.

It also—and this is important—retrospectively validates payments by NOPSEMA since December 2011 by making it clear that there is a regulation-making power supporting those payments. These amendments are in response to a High Court case that threw them into doubt. In other words, this is just another of the frequent bills that come into this place and pass this parliament and are aimed at keeping the offshore oil and gas industry going, giving that industry the regulations that they want and that suit them. We spend a long time in this place making sure that big oil and fossil fuel companies get exactly the regulatory settings they ask for, and this bill is no exception.

The campaign to protect the Great Australian Bight in my home state of South Australia is one that has galvanised our local communities. It is a campaign based on wanting to protect our precious marine life, protect that precious ecosystem and ensure that drilling for oil by massive multinationals does not occur. But we know that, because of the lack of courage and spine from both the state Labor government and the federal Labor and Liberal parties, big multinational oil companies like Chevron continue to put pressure on our parliamentarians to get access to the Great Australian Bight so that they can drill for oil.

Now, there is an argument that this is all about generating jobs in South Australia. Well, we know that is false. We know that is not true. Even when BP, as recently as last year, put forward applications to drill for all, it became clear that they had no intention of employing South Australians or indeed any Australians at all in these oil-drilling operations. Most of the jobs would be kept for specialists who would be flown in from overseas. But of course local jobs in the area would be put at extreme risk—the tourism industry in South Australia and the fishing industry in South Australia, all at risk if companies like BP or, now, as we have heard, Chevron, get their way and are able to start drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight.

Well, it is time that this parliament started standing up for these precious marine areas. Where these big multinational oil companies want to drill is right smack bang in the middle of a whale sanctuary—smack bang in the middle of an area that is meant to be a Commonwealth marine park protecting our fishing industries and protecting our tourism industry. But all of that would be put at risk if big oil, big multinational companies like Chevron, got their way. It is time that this parliament started to stand by the previous obligations of the Commonwealth Marine Park, an area that is meant to be protected, and do something to ensure that this national treasure is kept free of a disaster such as what we saw in the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf of Mexico has been devastated—marine life killed, local jobs devastated—because of BP's oil mess there.

Chevron wants to put our spectacular marine park at risk, and if they are given approval there will be several other companies lining up behind them. What is the point of having a marine protected area, a Commonwealth marine park, if you are just going to let big oil come in and drill willy-nilly? The bight is an essential sanctuary for our southern right whales and a feeding ground for threatened sea lions, sharks, tuna and migratory sperm whales we cannot afford to put that at risk. South Australians do not support opening up the Great Australian Bight to big foreign oil companies, and it is time this parliament stood up for the area and for our local communities. That is why, when we get to the committee stage of this bill, I will be moving an amendment to say that we cannot allow the drilling of oil to occur in what is meant to be a marine protected area, a Commonwealth marine park, a whale sanctuary. It is too precious to put at risk. Our tourism jobs in South Australia, our fishing jobs in South Australia are too precious and too important to our state's economy to be put at risk so that a foreign oil company can rack up some more profit. We know that the South Australian community will miss out. It is time that South Australian MPs and senators in this place do the right thing and tell big oil to bugger off.